Millions of people have been told to self-isolate to keep safe during the coronavirus pandemic. But as we adapt to the ‘new normal’, the lockdown has thrown a spotlight on the challenges staying home means for managing everyday banking needs.
Online and mobile app banking may seem like the natural solution to managing your finances during the lockdown, but not everyone can jump into the digital world at the drop of a hat.
Which? research of 1,000 UK adults shows that a third have concerns about managing their money digitally. Of this group, 35% are significantly more likely to be over the age of 65, or have some form of vulnerability, no experience of using the internet or only basic web skills.
Here, Which? explains how banks are improving telephone banking access, what non-online options are available, and how to let your bank know if you want someone else to manage your financial affairs. Plus find out what Post Office services are now available to help self-isolating customers access their money.
The Post Office cash delivery service
The Post Office has launched a cash delivery service to help vulnerable customers, with the help of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Thousands of vulnerable people in England who are shielding at home and receive benefits such as pensions will be able to have cash payments delivered directly to them. This includes state benefits such as the state pension, which it can deposit directly into Post Office accounts.
The Post Office has re-purposed part of its foreign exchange cash delivery business to enable the overnight delivery of cash and meet the demand for the initiative. The DWP has estimated nearly 30,000 people in the UK are ‘vulnerable customers’. Some banks are also offering cash delivery services, which we have detailed below.
The Post Office Payout Now and Fast Pace
Before the cash delivery initiative, the Post Office had made two of its services available to all UK banks, building societies and credit unions, to make it easier for people who are self-isolating to access cash.
One is Payout Now, a service which sends a voucher by text, email or post to a customer who can share it with a trusted person to withdraw cash at any Post Office branch.
The other is Fast Pace, a scheme that allows a customer to arrange for a trusted person (such as a carer or family member) to collect a pre-authorised cheque and cash it in at a Post Office branch.
To use either scheme, you need to contact your financial institution to see if it has signed up. Then you can arrange to withdraw cash quickly from your normal accounts through any local Post Office branch, with the help of a friend, family member, carer or local support worker.
However, Which? understands that so far just HSBC has signed up to the Fast Pace scheme, and only Santander has signed up to the Payout Now scheme.
That said, the situation is changing daily, so contact your provider to see if it’s ready to offer this option. The Post Office has a network of 11,500 branches, so you should be able to find one near you. However, some may need to close at short notice and some may have reduced opening hours, so double-check online using the branch finder before setting up your request.